The Most Lethal Sin – The Hardening of Your Heart

The Most Lethal Sin The Hardening o fYour HeartFor it was of the Lord to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that [Israel] might destroy them utterly, and that without favor, as the Lord commanded Moses. (Joshua 11:20)

Modernists and liberal theologians have constantly condemned the conquest of Canaan as the most brutal and cruellest wars in the all the history of Israel. In their endeavors to bring the people of God into disrepute, they obtusely sympathize with the victims and brazenly denounce the Israelite.

Notwithstanding all their criticism, one thing stands out brilliantly in the pages of Scripture describing Joshua’s war expeditions in Canaan-the final consummation of God’s righteous judgments after a very lengthy time of patience and long suffering.

The nations in Canaan who, at the command of God had to be utterly destroyed, had ample time to repent of their grievously idolatrous ways (among other things, child sacrifices which is equal to today’s abortion of babies). Not a single city or it’s inhabitants, be it the king or his subjects, were unaware of the mighty miracles God performed in the midst of His people. In fact, several accounts are given in the book of Joshua that substantiate the first-hand knowledge they had of God’s dealings with Israel.

Rahab the harlot was in awe of God’s mighty deeds when she recounted how He led them dry shod through the Red Sea when they came out of Egypt, and their victorious battles against the kings of the Amorites (Joshua 2:9-13). God’s judgments on Egypt and their false gods convinced her that Israel’s God was the one and only true God in the heavens above and the earth beneath.

Her plea for mercy that they spare her father and mother, brothers and sisters when Jericho was to be destroyed, earned her an honourable place in the hall of the heroes of faith in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. She responded with humility to the righteous judgments of God and she and her whole family were saved. All the other inhabitants of Jericho callously ignored the fact that God’s patience and long suffering means salvation and refused to honour Him as the only true God in the universe (2 Peter 3:15).

Similarly the Gibeonites made a wily covenant with Joshua because they heard of his fame and all that He had done in Egypt (Joshua 9:9). One of the most baffling mysteries in Scripture is man’s callous resistance to God’s loving-kindness, long suffering and the unsearchable richness of His mercies. Why does the majority of the human race refuse to respond to God’s outstretched arms of grace and love?

The answer is given by the prophet Isaiah in his book, chapter 26 verses 9 and 10. Isaiah declares with great fortitude, “only when Your judgments are in the earth will the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. Though favour be shown to the wicked, yet he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely and refuses to see the majesty of the Lord.”

The profound meaning of these words becomes clear when we look at the tremendous blessings God bestowed on the inhabitants of Canaan before Israel conquered the land. It is a well-known fact that it was a land that flowed with milk and honey. The enormity of one cluster of grapes the Israelite spies brought back with them from the valley of Eschol, bears witness to the great blessings God showered on the peoples in Canaan.

They enjoyed these blessings for more than 400 years while Israel was suffering under the yoke of Egyptian cruelty. Yet they refused to see the majesty of the Lord. They did not learn righteousness, neither through the blessings nor the judgments of the Lord of which they heard in Egypt. They hardened their hearts and continued to crouch before their idols. What a devastatingly repugnant thing to do!- to harden your heart in the face of the most tender-hearted and gracious God whose blessings are showered on the entire earth.

How can God harden the heart of a sinner?

Several questions ensue from the historical account given thus far-“How can a God whose compassion and tender-hearted kindness endure forever, harden the hearts of people?”; “When does God harden the heart of a sinner?” “Is there any hope left for those whose hearts He has hardened?” “How can one possibly believe that a God of love can harden a person’s heart?”

Headstrong willfulness on the part of the unrepentant sinner supplies the key to all these questions. A case in point is Amenhotep II, the Pharaoh who refused to let the Israelite go when God sent Moses to him. To some people the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart as well as the hearts of the Egyptians (Exodus 14:17) is an enigma that incites them to harden their own hearts and resist God’s gracious mercies.

However, they seem to overlook the fact that Pharaoh hardened his own heart six times before God began to harden his heart. He was merely affirming Pharaoh’s defiant and willful obstinacy. God was in effect giving Pharaoh completely over to the hardness of his own heart when all possible avenues to bring him to his senses had been fully exhausted.

The same principle is found in the New Testament where Paul writes, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (2 Thessalonians 2:10 & 11).

Foolhardy resistance to God and the richness of His mercies is extremely dangerous. The eternal truth that God is slow to anger and abounding in love is a great comfort to those who respond to His love and compassionate mercies, and who reverently fear Him (Psalm 103:8-13). Equally true is the fact that the calloused in heart who persistently harden their hearts will undoubtedly experience the full fury of His righteous judgments.

The destruction of a third part of the human race will have absolutely no effect on those who remain, for “the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk:Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts. (Revelation 9:20).

 

Today, if you hear His voice,

do not harden your hearts.”

(Hebrews 4:7)

for tomorrow might just be too late.

Take heed: the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Tom (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

5 Responses

  1. Sharon says:

    Mat 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
    Mat 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

    We are witnessing the rise of the false prophets. Do “wolves/false prophets” have hard hearts? Yes, they are merciless. Do they know they are wolves? Absolutely.

    The love of “many” shall wax cold. “Many” isn’t just lost people. “Many” is also Christians. I have witnessed personally a few “Christians” turn into a wolf pack against another Christian. I’ve been their victim a couple of times. I wasn’t surprised by some of them. Others were a total shock to me.

    Yes, because iniquity abounds the love of many shall wax cold. When I read “wax-cold” I think of a person that has died. While we are made of clay it feels the same as cold wax to me. I have touched the dead faces of my Grandparents, my dad and my momma. The warmth of their love for me, for the Lord, for each other was overcome by death. My dads once strong hands were folded in death. My momma’s loving-kindness could not be felt when I said good-bye for now and kissed her fore-head.

    Abounding iniquity kills love. Abounding iniquity kills the real cry of our hearts…to know Him more. Abounding iniquity takes away our confidence. Abounding iniquity robs us of more than we know. None of us are immune from Abounding Iniquity that makes our hearts hard like cold wax.

    There was a time in my life I had a hard heart. It was during a three years period after my unwanted divorce. Tears didn’t flow any more. My witness was in shambles. I was as angry as hell and wanted everyone to know it. But thanks be to Jesus Christ and a very special friend in my life my old stony heart began to crack open. When it cracked the love of the Lord began to seep back in. I cried, no I sobbed into the chest of my friend and I cried for quite sometime.

    I can cry the right type of tears now. My heart still gets icy sometimes and it is up to me to say…Lord crack it open again.

    Another goodie there Thomas

  2. Absolutely incredible piec of writing, Debs. (Great one Thomas, as Sharon above seems to indicate you wrote it. It applies to all of us though.
    From what I’ve read, the Edomites are today’s “Palestinians”–who only started calling themselves Palestinians after the Yom Kippur War in the Seventies when Abdul Nasser sent Arafat, his fellow EGYPTIAN to the area to cause trouble. We know from history that the Palestinians–Philistines–were wiped out and so will the Edomites of today.
    Obadiah tells us that will happen. As they are still with us they have not been wiped out. But they are going to be–Obadiah again.
    Their mentality, not all, some are Bible-believers though most are not. I can think of two former Moslems, now Christians, who really love Israel. Wallid Shoebatt and JD Farag.
    God bless.

    Sharon, your testimony was very touching. Thank you.

  3. Marthina says:

    I listned to a podcast from Prof Leighton Flowers from Soteriology101.com. He also talked about the Pharoa’s hardening heart. So God is hardening his heart in order to bring about the Passover to demonstrate His power over the Pharoa and all the Egiptian god’s.

    He used the following illustration to explain it better: it is like the policeofficer who will hide himself in so that the speeder continues to speed and break the law. The speeder knows the law but decides to disobey. The policeofficer doesn’t have to make the speeder speed.

    So God hides His true revelation from Pharoa so that Pharoa continues his already rebellious ways.

    We see this in the NT as well when He talks in parables and tell them to sometimes keep it quiet because His time has not come yet. God needed to bring about His redemtion Plan through the people’s rebellious hearts.

  4. Hi Marthina.

    I don’t think Pharaoh hardened his own heart and God eventually assisted him in the hardening of his heart because He did not want to reveal to him his purposes or true revelation, as you said. If it was God’s plan to hide his Gospel message from certain people so that He may use them to accomplish his goals, then we ought to rip verses like John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 John 2:2 out of the Bible. If it is true that God is not a man that He should lie like men (Numbers 23:19), then we must believe that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (including Pharoah). (Ezekiel 33:11). Please bear in mind with prayerful humility that it is not God who hides things from men so that they may not be saved; it is Satan.

    But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2 Co 4:3-4).

    The answer to Pharoah’s hardened heart lies in God’s awesome foreknowledge or prescience. God knew, even before the foundation of the world and before Pharoah even existed, that Pharoah would harden his own heart. Having known this beforehand, God decided to use Pharoah’s hardness of heart to accomplish is will. The same thing happened to Judas. God knew beforehand that Judas would not obey Jesus and be saved. He did not cause him to betray Jesus as the Calvinists believe.

    One of the direst mistakes Christians make, is to ignore or to deny the difference between God’s dealings with the Jews and the Gentiles. And when I say this, I am not suggesting there are two different ways of salvation for the Jews and the Gentiles. Both are saved in the very same way – through faith in Jesus Christ and repentance toward Him and Him alone. That is why Peter could say something as awesome as this: “But we (the Jews) believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we (the Jews) shall be saved, even as they (the Gentiles). (Act 15:11)

    The first thing we need to take into account, is that Matthew was specifically written with the Jewish nation in mind. Why? (Romans 1:16; 2:20). Now listen carefully to Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew.

    Therefore, speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Mat 13:13-15).

    To whom was Jesus referring? Verse 14 provides the answer: “And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esias . . .” It is the fulfilment of Isaiah 6:9-10 when God asked “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” and the prophet Isaiah said “Here am I; send me.”

    And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. (Isaiah 6:9-10).

    Note that this judgment reminds us of God’s hardening of Pharao’s heart when he refused to obey God. Jehovah had given his people, the Israelite, ample time to repent of their evil deeds. He spread his arms out to them day and night but they refused to come to Him for their redemption (Matthew 23:37).

    King David and Paul also referred to the hardening of God’s peoples’ hearts in Psalm 69:22-23 and Romans 11:9-10. Even Jesus’ 12 disciples could not understand his parables, proving how severe God’s judgment on the Jews was then and is to this day. However, the difference between his disciples and the Jewish nation at large, is that his disciples had a hunger for righteousness and earnestly sought to understand his parables which motivated them to go to Him and ask Him what his parables meant. This in itself is one of the wonderful elements of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only those who seek God with all their heart, mind and soul will find Him and it is to them that He reveals Himself and his parables. Or, to put it differently, only those who know and realize they are lost and in dire need of a Saviour will come to Jesus for their salvation. (Mark 2:17).

    Those who persist in their twisting of the Gospel will suffer the very same judgment Pharaoh experienced.

    And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Th 2:8-12)

  5. Marthina says:

    Thank you for taking your time to reply. I am going to take some time and go through all the Scripture references in your reply. When I first started reading you blog it was quite difficult for me to get familiar with all different view points and opinions there seems to be. Now when I read an article on this blog I always keep my Bible at hand. Makes so much more sense and meaning when I read the Scripture ref. in context. I get more Bible reading in as well ;-)

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